Exam preparation

Information for candidates

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Exam format

OET (Occupational English Test) is made up of four papers developed to help healthcare professionals prove they have the right level of English for work or study, while also learning the kind of language they will need every day at work. OET covers all four language skills with an emphasis on communication in a healthcare environment.

About 50 minutes

(including pauses to write the answers)

The OET Listening Sub-test consists of three parts, and a total of 42 question items. The topics are of generic healthcare interest and accessible to candidates across all professions. The total length of the Listening audio is about 40 minutes, including recorded speech and pauses to allow candidates time to write their answers. Candidates will hear each recording once and are expected to write your answers while listening.

The Listening Sub-test structure

Part A - Consultation extracts
  • Part A assesses your ability to identify specific information during a consultation. You will listen to two recorded health professional-patient consultations and you will complete the health professional’s notes using the information you hear.
  • Note: the health professionals may be any one of the 12 professions who can take OET
Part B - Short workplace extracts
  • Part B assesses your ability to identify the detail, gist, opinion or purpose of short extracts from the healthcare workplace. You will listen to six recorded extracts (e.g. team briefings, handovers, or health professional-patient dialogues) and you will answer one multiple-choice question for each extract.
Part C - Presentation extracts
  • Part C assesses your ability to follow a recorded presentation or interview on a range of accessible healthcare topics. You will listen to two different extracts and you will answer six multiple-choice questions for each extract.

How is listening ability assessed in OET?

  • The Listening sub-test is designed to assess a range of listening skills, such as identifying specific information, detail, gist, opinion or the speaker’s purpose. These skills are assessed through note-completion tasks and multiple-choice questions.
  • Assessors who mark the Listening sub-test are qualified and highly trained. Candidate responses are assessed against an established marking guide. During the marking session, problematic or unforeseen answers are referred to a sub-group of senior assessors for guidance and all papers are double-marked to ensure fairness and consistency.

How is the listening test scored?

  • Your answers for Part A are double-marked by trained OET assessors.
  • These answers are randomly assigned to assessors to avoid any conflict of interest.
  • Your answers for Part B and Part C are computer scanned and automatically scored.
  • For Part A, Listening assessors use a detailed marking guide which sets out which answers receive marks. Assessors use this guide to decide whether you have provided enough correct information to be given the mark. Assessors are monitored for accuracy and consistency.

1 hour

The OET Reading Sub-test consists of three parts, and a total of 42 question items. The topics are of generic healthcare interest and accessible to candidates across all professions.

The Reading Sub-test structure

Part B and Part C - Careful reading tasks
  • Part A assesses your ability to locate specific information from four short texts in a quick and efficient manner. The four short texts relate to a single healthcare topic, and you must answer 20 questions in the allocated time period. The 20 questions consist of matching, sentence completion and short answer questions.
Part B i Part C - Tasques de lectura acurada
  • Part B assesses your ability to identify the detail, gist or main point of six short texts sourced from the healthcare workplace (100-150 words each). The texts might consist of extracts from policy documents, hospital guidelines, manuals or internal communications, such as emails or memos. For each text, there is one three-option multiple-choice question.
  • Part C assesses your ability to identify detailed meaning and opinion in two texts on topics of interest to healthcare professionals (800 words each). For each text, you must answer eight four-option multiple choice questions.

45 minutes

The OET Writing Sub-test is profession-specific. There is one task set for each profession based on a typical workplace situation and the demands of the profession.

The Writing Sub-test structure

  • The task is to write a letter, usually a referral letter. Some alternative letter types are a letter of transfer and a letter of discharge. A letter to advise or inform a patient, carer or group is sometimes used in Pharmacy, Veterinary Science and occasionally for Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy. Another task variation, with a different focus, is a written response to a complaint (for Radiography).
  • Along with the task instructions, you will receive stimulus material (case notes and/or other related documentation) which includes information to use in your response.

20 minutes

The Speaking Sub-test is delivered individually and takes around 20 minutes. This part of OET uses materials specifically designed for your profession. In each role-play, you take your professional role (for example, as a nurse or as a pharmacist) while the interlocutor plays a patient, a client, or a patient’s relative or carer. For veterinary science, the interlocutor is the owner or carer of the animal.

The Speaking Sub-test structure

In each Speaking test, the candidate’s identity and profession are checked by the interlocutor and there is a short warm-up conversation about your professional background. Then the role-plays are introduced one by one and you have three minutes to prepare for each. The role-plays take about five minutes each.

Role-plays:

  • You receive information for each role-play on a card that you keep while you do the role-play. The card explains the situation and what you are required to do. You may write notes on the card if you want. If you have any questions about the content of the role-play or how a role-play works, you can ask them during the preparation time.
  • The role-plays are based on typical workplace situations and reflect the demands made on a health professional in those situations. The interlocutor follows a script so that the Speaking test structure is similar for each candidate. The interlocutor also has detailed information to use in each role-play. Different role-plays are used for different candidates at the same test administration.

Sample tests

Start for Success package

The Start for Success package is filled with helpful OET preparation material, perfect for OET practice. Created by E2Language (OET Premium Preparation Provider), the package includes access to videos, lessons, sample answers, guides and more – all designed to help you prepare for success.

Masterclass

The on-demand OET Masterclasses allow you to prepare at a time and place that fit your needs. There is an OET Masterclass for each subtest, so you can practise your reading, writing, speaking and listening from anywhere.

Information for candidates

Exam format

OET is made up of four papers developed to help healthcare professionals prove they have the right level of English for work or study, while also learning the kind of language they will need every day at work.

About 50 minutes

(including pauses to write the answers)

The OET Listening Sub-test consists of three parts, and a total of 42 question items. The topics are of generic healthcare interest and accessible to candidates across all professions. The total length of the Listening audio is about 40 minutes, including recorded speech and pauses to allow candidates time to write their answers. Candidates will hear each recording once and are expected to write your answers while listening.

The Listening Sub-test structure

Part A
  • Part A assesses your ability to identify specific information during a consultation. You will listen to two recorded health professional-patient consultations and you will complete the health professional’s notes using the information you hear.
  • Note: the health professionals may be any one of the 12 professions who can take OET
Part B
  • Part B assesses your ability to identify the detail, gist, opinion or purpose of short extracts from the healthcare workplace. You will listen to six recorded extracts (e.g. team briefings, handovers, or health professional-patient dialogues) and you will answer one multiple-choice question for each extract.
Part C
  • Part C assesses your ability to follow a recorded presentation or interview on a range of accessible healthcare topics. You will listen to two different extracts and you will answer six multiple-choice questions for each extract.

How is listening ability assessed in OET?

  • The Listening sub-test is designed to assess a range of listening skills, such as identifying specific information, detail, gist, opinion or the speaker’s purpose. These skills are assessed through note-completion tasks and multiple-choice questions.
  • Assessors who mark the Listening sub-test are qualified and highly trained. Candidate responses are assessed against an established marking guide. During the marking session, problematic or unforeseen answers are referred to a sub-group of senior assessors for guidance and all papers are double-marked to ensure fairness and consistency.

How is the listening test scored?

  • Your answers for Part A are double-marked by trained OET assessors.
  • These answers are randomly assigned to assessors to avoid any conflict of interest.
  • Your answers for Part B and Part C are computer scanned and automatically scored.
  • For Part A, Listening assessors use a detailed marking guide which sets out which answers receive marks. Assessors use this guide to decide whether you have provided enough correct information to be given the mark. Assessors are monitored for accuracy and consistency.

1 hour

The OET Reading Sub-test consists of three parts, and a total of 42 question items. The topics are of generic healthcare interest and accessible to candidates across all professions.

The Reading Sub-test structure

Part A
  • Part A assesses your ability to locate specific information from four short texts in a quick and efficient manner. The four short texts relate to a single healthcare topic, and you must answer 20 questions in the allocated time period. The 20 questions consist of matching, sentence completion and short answer questions.
Part B i Part C
  • Part B assesses your ability to identify the detail, gist or main point of six short texts sourced from the healthcare workplace (100-150 words each). The texts might consist of extracts from policy documents, hospital guidelines, manuals or internal communications, such as emails or memos. For each text, there is one three-option multiple-choice question.
  • Part C assesses your ability to identify detailed meaning and opinion in two texts on topics of interest to healthcare professionals (800 words each). For each text, you must answer eight four-option multiple choice questions.

45 minutes

The OET Writing Sub-test is profession-specific. There is one task set for each profession based on a typical workplace situation and the demands of the profession.

The Writing Sub-test structure

  • The task is to write a letter, usually a referral letter. Some alternative letter types are a letter of transfer and a letter of discharge. A letter to advise or inform a patient, carer or group is sometimes used in Pharmacy, Veterinary Science and occasionally for Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy. Another task variation, with a different focus, is a written response to a complaint (for Radiography).
  • Along with the task instructions, you will receive stimulus material (case notes and/or other related documentation) which includes information to use in your response.

20 minutes

The Speaking Sub-test is delivered individually and takes around 20 minutes. This part of OET uses materials specifically designed for your profession. In each role-play, you take your professional role (for example, as a nurse or as a pharmacist) while the interlocutor plays a patient, a client, or a patient’s relative or carer. For veterinary science, the interlocutor is the owner or carer of the animal.

The Speaking Sub-test structure

In each Speaking test, the candidate’s identity and profession are checked by the interlocutor and there is a short warm-up conversation about your professional background. Then the role-plays are introduced one by one and you have three minutes to prepare for each. The role-plays take about five minutes each.

Role-plays:

  • You receive information for each role-play on a card that you keep while you do the role-play. The card explains the situation and what you are required to do. You may write notes on the card if you want. If you have any questions about the content of the role-play or how a role-play works, you can ask them during the preparation time.
  • The role-plays are based on typical workplace situations and reflect the demands made on a health professional in those situations. The interlocutor follows a script so that the Speaking test structure is similar for each candidate. The interlocutor also has detailed information to use in each role-play. Different role-plays are used for different candidates at the same test administration.

Sample tests

Start for Success package

The Start for Success package is filled with helpful OET preparation material, perfect for OET practice. Created by E2Language (OET Premium Preparation Provider), the package includes access to videos, lessons, sample answers, guides and more – all designed to help you prepare for success.

Masterclass

The on-demand OET Masterclasses allow you to prepare at a time and place that fit your needs. There is an OET Masterclass for each subtest, so you can practise your reading, writing, speaking and listening from anywhere.